Synagogues in the Works of Flavius Josephus

Rhetoric, Spatiality, and First-Century Jewish Institutions


In Synagogues in the Works of Flavius Josephus, Andrew Krause analyses the place of the synagogue within the cultural and spatial rhetoric of Flavius Josephus. Engaging with both rhetorical critical methods and critical spatial theories, Krause argues that in his later writings Josephus portrays the Jewish institutions as an important aspect of the post-Temple, pan-diasporic Judaism that he creates. Specifically, Josephus consistently treats the synagogue as a supra-local rallying point for the Jews throughout the world, in which the Jewish customs and Law may be practiced and disseminated following the loss of the Temple and the Land. Conversely, in his earliest extant work, Bellum judaicum, Josephus portrays synagogues as local temples in order to condemn the Jewish insurgents who violated them.

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Andrew R. Krause, PhD (2015), McMaster University, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Religion and Politics Cluster of Excellence and Institutum Judaicum Delitzschianum at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany.
Krause succesfully demonstrates the importance of understanding the rhetorical goals of Josephus before undertaking a historical reconstruction of the synagogue. The book combines recent insights into the rhetoric of Josephus’ writings as well as conclusions regarding the historical basis of Josephus’ depiction. It is a highly useful tool for anyone working on Josephus as well as on early synagogues.
Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 2018
This is an important contribution to the scholarly investigation and appreciation of the works of Flavius Josephus. It is also a signifiant addition to the study of the synagogue, which was a central institution of ancient Judaism. Krause is keenly aware of the tendenz in Josephus works that aim to describe an ideal Judaism, and he shows how rhetorical analysis, informed by a careful contextualization of those works, can help scholars of ancient Judaism in their attempts to reconstruct the early history of the synagogue. Undoubtedly, Krause’s work will stimulate further research on the first-century synagogue. For this, scholars of ancient Judaism are in his debt.
Leslie J. Hoppe, Biblica, 2018
This publication is a thought-provoking addition to the literature on Josephus. David M. Jacobson, Strata, 2018
All interested in the development of ancient synagogues and other early Jewish assemblies, the rhetoric of Flavius Josephus, and the application of critical spatial theory to ancient historiography.
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